Is Marriott the king of content in the hotel industry?

Marriott has partnered with the renowned ideas conference organizer TED to show videotaped talks and hold TED Talks in its hotels. Photo courtesy of Marriott

You may have heard of the media adage that amid this era of information clutter, great content will always be king. In the hotel industry, Marriott International’s content strategy is likely sitting on the Iron Throne.

Over the past years, Marriott has put its resources on creating incredibly crafted and curated content that business and leisure travelers will enjoy even before they book at Marriott.

I’m not just talking about creating a good Instagram feed, but it extends to venturing into media channels that may, at the extreme, seem unrelated to the hotel business. In 2014, it announced plans to launch a global content studio and, in 2015, it opened its first-ever M Live, a “real-time marketing and brand news room” that resembles that of broadcasting channel’s.

Recently, Marriott has upped the ante when it partnered with TED, the renowned nonprofit devoted to ideas worth spreading through live and video-taped conferences, to bring TED Talks sessions and messages in its hotels.

Four global marketing real-time command centers that monitor digital media activities across the entire hotel group are spread across the world, one in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of Marriott

More conservative hotels would likely spend their marketing dollars elsewhere, but Matthew Carroll, Vice President and Global Brand Manager of Marriott Hotels, says its partnership to bring TED Talks content to the hotel is part of “our belief that travel expands the mind and triggers new and creative ways of thinking.” He says, “We know that travelers today look for more in a hotel and we are bringing to life new innovations that help elevate guests’ stay to memorable experiences. TED content does not only entertain, but educates and engages on topics that are relevant to our guests. Together we are delivering a series of original content, events and experiences that will spark travelers’ creativity and inspire new perspectives.”

Its quest for great content that inspires travelers led it to venture to areas that some may say are outside the hotel industry’s expertise such as film-making.

It has launched several short films and series such as Two Bellmen, French Kiss, and Hot Shoppe. Now it is on the third installment of Two Bellmen, this time starring Jessica Jung (Girl’s Generation) and Ki Hong Lee (Maze Runner) in a bid that seems to broaden the show’s Asian demographic reach.

“Brands must stop interrupting what consumers are interested in and become what they are interested in, and short films driven by storytelling vs. advertising are just one of the many ways we are engaging with next generation travelers,” said David Beebe, Vice President, Global Creative + Content Marketing, for Marriott International and its portfolio of 19 brands in 2015.

The comedy-action Two Bellmen One has been viewed more than 5 million times on YouTube; its sequel 7 million times.

Marriott continues to give inspiring content by capitalizing on moments it has been part of history. If you watched the film Sully (2016, starring Tom Hanks), Marriott has been given wide media exposure as the hotel where Captain Sally stayed during the government’s investigation of the forced landing of a U.S. Airways plane on the Hudson River. It has produced its own short documentary about the miraculous survival of 155 passengers and crew:

In essence, Marriott executives explain the hotel groups strategy as revolving around three C’s: Content, Community, Commerce, explained in great detail here.

But does it work? Evidence from Marriott suggests yes. Just ask the business traveler who’ll be happy to see a TED Talk fellow speak about a new idea right from his hotel room, or the tourist who will never look at the JW by Marriott bellman in the same ordinary light again.

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